On Women’s Rights
When asked if women were equal to men, Prince Mohammed said: “Absolutely. We are all human beings and there is no difference.”
His rise to power has been accompanied by a loosening of restrictions on women’s dress and an expansion of their role in the work force. He said the government was working on regulations to ensure equal pay.
But women in Saudi Arabia are still bound by so-called guardianship laws that give male relatives control over aspects of their lives, like their ability to travel abroad and undergo certain medical procedures.
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On Purge of Princes
Prince Mohammed defended the recent jailing of more than 380 princes, businessmen and former government ministers in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh as part of a campaign to stamp out corruption.
“What we did in Saudi Arabia was extremely necessary,” Prince Mohammed said of the arrests. “All actions taken were in accordance with existing and published laws.”
Relatives and associates of the detained said that many were subjected to coercive tactics and physical abuse to get them to sign assets over to the state. One detainee died, his body showing signs of mistreatment.
The Saudi government denies that any abuse took place.
On His Wealth
Prince Mohammed has been criticized for lavish personal spending at a time when he is imposing new taxes on Saudi citizens and preaching fiscal responsibility. In recent years, he bought a yacht for a half-billion dollars, a French chateau for more than $300 million and a painting for $450 million.
In the interview, Prince Mohammed said his private spending was his business.
“As far as my private expenses, I’m a rich person and not a poor person,” he said. “I’m not Gandhi or Mandela.”
On Becoming King
Prince Mohammed is expected to ascend to the throne after his father, King Salman, dies. If that happens, given his young age, he could he rule Saudi Arabia for 50 years.
“If things go their normal ways, then that’s to be expected,” he said.